WINDHOEK - A meeting of stakeholders in trade fairs and expos, horseracing and communal agricultural shows is being scheduled in Gobabis soon to harmonise these three events that lately have started to clash and/or compete against one another rather than complimenting one another in one way or another.
Farmers have lately particularly been complaining about the erosion of the traditional agricultural shows, which have been taking place in the various communal areas with a sharp focus on livestock. However, these lately seems to be undermined by trade fairs and expos which has been mushrooming in the main centres or rural settlements or village councils, and even towns like Okakarara and cities like Windhoek, especially the Katutura Trade Expo. Foremost, among the complaints from the farmers who have been participating in these fairs and expos is the treatment that have been meted to them, including the random organisation, of such fairs and expos, and also by their sheer numbers that farmers have been presenting farmers showcasing their animals at such fairs and expos with a catch 22 situation which one to attend given their cramped scheduling allowing little space. Not only this but it also means should any farmer become indiscriminate and injudicious targeting each and every trade fair and/or expo, this would leave little if no time at all for farmers to attend to their farming. Not to mention the fact that complement and synergy in this regard is compromised.
To add insult to injury, the expos and fairs have also started to compete with horse races that have now become a regular features at such expos and fairs and that have not only been pulling away crowds, but has even been undercutting the final laps of the livestock sections with organisers hurrying this part, which usually entails judging and prize-giving, to attend horseracing. Albert Tjihero, a longstanding farmer and one of the champions of livestock shows at the communal level, says the tradition has been for any Saturday to be the highlight of the livestock section of any fair or expo when most part-time farmers may be able to attend. But this days things are hurried for horseracing, meaning these days livestock do not get the necessary time and attention. Unless this situation is addressed for the better, the chairperson of the Ongombe Farmers Association (OFA), Tjihero, who has for years now been spearheading the annual show of the association, with two editions thereof at the Windhoek Showgrounds, envisages the crossing of the Rubicon where farmers would have to contemplate separating livestock showcasing from trade fairs and/or expos, as well as horseracing. Unless all role players address this matter well in advance before next year when the season of expos and fair starts again.
Coming shortly from the experience of the Katutura expo, which this year only attracted 24 sheep, Katjinduu Tjahuha, one of the organisers of the livestock section at the show, cannot agree more with Tjihero about the need to go back to the drawing board. Nor does he mince his words that this year the livestock section at the Katutura Trade Fair was a step backward. He partly attributes this to the shifting of the dates of the show to November, away from the country’s main industrial and agricultural showpiece, the Windhoek Show, which is end September, beginning October. Echoing Tjihero, Tjahuha says all fairs and expos should thus be organised close to the Windhoek Show at the last chapter.
For any farmer, says Tjiherero, it would have been an extra burden to return livestock to the Katutura Trade Fair a month later after bringing them to the Windhoek Show, which cannot be cost effective, especially given the fact that farmers have to dig deep in their pockets in this regard. But the return in showcasing livestock may necessarily not be commensurate with the effort. Tjahuha further motivates the need for a serious relook at trade fairs/expos vis-à-vis livestock show in view of the fact that inherently fairs and expos have not been created with livestock showcasing as a primary focus but rather to boost the businesses of towns and cities. In this regard, he cites the example of fairs such as Ongwediva with no livestock showcasing but which have been proving a success.